After reading the melange of instructables on this website, there are many misconceptions about making moonshine and distillation etc
For this reason, i have decided to compile and publish the knowledge and data I have amassed.
This is going to be a long and detailed instructable that is a product of my many months of feverish research. This information was suppose to be the basis of my science fair project that never left the paper.
Remember, within the United States, it is ILLEGAL to distill any kind of alcohol without a license. Licenses to make alcohol for consumption are neigh to impossible to get. However, ones to distill fuel are more readily obtainable.
Additionally, the information on this Instructable is to be used as a GUIDE ONLY. Although it is long, it is not comprehensive and does not contain ALL the information you need. I have also never made a still for I never obtained a license to do so. However, the ones covered in this instructable will provide a basis for anyone to attempt to make one at their own risk.
I assume no responsibility for the use/misuse of the information presented in this instructable.
Please vote for this and the instructables to follow to be considered for the book contest.
Your favorable votes are much appreciated and the motivation to devote hours to typing this information.
P.S. If you want to me add something that should be here tell me and if I agree I will add it. Spelling mistakes and other stuff like that too will be appreciated.
Step 1: Fermentation
Anyway, lets start with the basics, Fermentation
Fermentation as known in biology, is a method used by organisms to break down glucose.
There are two kinds:
and Lactic Acid
For our endeavors, our only concern is the alcoholic fermentation.
The alcoholic fermentation process can be described as such.
In a Anaerobic (no oxygen) environment
Glucose(C6H12O6) + yeast = Carbon Dioxide (CO2) + Ethanol (C2H5OH)
In alcoholic fermentation, the yeast require an environment that lacks oxygen. That may sound difficult but there is a catch to this, yeast initial need oxygen to bud (reproduce) in large amounts. To start a successful alcoholic fermentation, it is very important that there is dissolved oxygen in the mash(substance that will be fermented).
So, to get a mass started you will need:
Base that will be fermented (Table sugar is fine if making vodka or other flavorless alcohols)
Yeast ( I recommend that you use brewers yeast as it is capable of producing more % alcohol)
Water ( spring water or any kind of water you would drink is suitable, hard water is not really a good choice)
Carboy ( a large glass container that looks like those jugs that hold water for those water dispensers, a carbon however has an angled top unlike the water jug that has a flat top.)
Air lock ( usually inserted into a cork which has a hole for it, its allows CO2 generated from the fermentation to escape by bubbling through water but does not allow atmospheric air to enter the vessel for the water is blocking it.
Hydrometer (This a floating device that will tell you the density of the mash, it will allow you to mix the appropriate amount of sugar, tell you when the fermentation is done/dry and the percent alcohol of the substance, a MUST have)
" sanitizer" (To have a successful fermentation, it is imperative that you have clean and sterile area for the yeast to bud. The reason behind this is, in the early stages of Fermentation, yeast buds much slower then bacteria. If bacteria is present, it is possible that the bacteria will overtake the fermentation and it will be ruined. For this reason, I used one step sanitizer that is non-toxic and does its job very well.)
Tactin acid ( its for wine, some recipes require it.)
'Pectic 'Enzyme( for wine, if your doing a fruit wine)
Yeast nutrient (While grapes provide a complete balance of nutrients for yeast, if using table sugar, there is little usable nutrients for the yeast to bud healthy. For this reason, yeast nutrient is added before to help augment the environment and providing the required nutrients.
Yeast Energizer (This is added to the fermentation if it seems unusually slow or stuck, more on this later)
Clearing Agent ( This will get your mass Really clear.)
Oak Cubes( This can be added if your making wine for flavor, the right amount depends on the volume you are making and the package/ store will tell you how much you need.)
Now, where to get these supplies?
1. The easiest way, is to go online and search for brew stores. They will sell everything you are looking for, atleast the list above anyway.
2. If you know of a brew store near you, that is not a bad place to look. Sometimes they may be more expensive then the online stores, but the plus is you don't have to pay for shipping. Also the staff (atleast at the one near me) , was very knowledgeable and friendly.
Now, as you were buying the items, you may have hit the problem of selecting the right strain.
There are many types of yeast available, some are better choices than others. Some are to be used for red wines, white wines, full body, half body, and all produce their own unique taste. I would not be able to advise you on what to select for I have only ever used Champagne yeast for its high yield of 18%
After you have all the ingredients, here is how to put it all together
1. Sanitize EVERYTHING!!! bacterial infection is no fun.
2. Rehydrate your yeast according to the package.
3. Dissolve sugar into the hot/warm water, the amount of sugar you put into the water is determined by what kind of yeast your using. The package should tell you the amount of alcohol the yeast is capable of producing. if it is 15%, you want to float your hydrometer until you have about 14% potential alcohol. If your hydrometer does not have the potential alcohol meter with it, the raw SG or specific gravity will have to be converted. Conversion tables are online. One quick note, for the amount of water, you want to make sure that you have in the end less base volume then the container size. The reason for this is that the fermentation can sometime bubble and overflow if it is filled to the brim. So to properly make sure you have the right amount of base, if making a sugar mass, have about 1/4 total volume hot water and then add all the sugar you need, you can use a hydrometer or go online and there is a way to figure out exactly how much you need. After you add the sugar, add cold water to achieve the right temperature and volume. If making a wine, follow the instructions if you bought a kit. If your making it from fresh fruit, look for recipes, there are numerous available.
4. if you have it, stir in the yeast nutrient into the mash. The package should have how much is recommended you put in by volume.
5. Stir the base vigorously, to dissolve oxygen its is important and there is no such thing as too much stirring.
6. Put the yeast solution into the base and stir gently for even distribution.
7. Add the oak cubes, tactin acid and pectine enzyme if you are making wine and the recipe requires them.
8. Put cork in with airlock.
9. Keep the carboy in a warm location, depending on the yeast, but usually 75-85 degrees for quick fermentation, colder temps will slow it down and higher ones can kill the yeast. Also keep the carboy out of direct sunlight.
The fermentation will take a few day if its a sugar mash and if the conditions are ideal. If not, it will take longer.
if successful, you should see little bubbles of CO2 going up.
1. The fermentation is not going.
There can be numerous factors for this.
A. You killed the yeast when hydrating them too hot.
Try adding more yeast
B. There was too much sugar in the mash and the yeast are unable to reproduce.
Try diluting the sugar concentration by adding more water.
C. You didn't sanitize the equipment well enough
You will prob have to start over
2. Slow fermentation
A. Too much sugar.
Try diluting the sugar concentration by adding more water.
B. Not enough Oxygen was dissolved into it.
Stir the solution
Or you can try adding the yeast energizer if you have it.